2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the graduation of the College’s first Black graduate, Lorraine Wiggan, who received her diploma at Carthage’s 1946 Commencement.
Throughout 2021 and into 2022, Carthage is paying tribute to the generations of Black Carthage students who, since 1946, have attained and contributed extraordinary levels of achievement in academics, co-curricular activities, scholarly work, and volunteerism; and celebrate our Black alumni, who have achieved excellence in professional careers across every industry and in countless other ways.
In spring 2021, the Carthage Board of Trustees passed a resolution to recognize 75 Years of Black Excellence. The board enthusiastically celebrates the achievements of Black alumni over that span and recognizes 75 Years of Black Excellence as a compelling and important means to bring Carthaginians together, both to celebrate the achievements of the past and to inspire the achievements of the future.
75 Years of Black Excellence lifts up Black communities and voices, and cherish, embrace, and celebrate Black contributions to our beloved Carthage community. Spring 2021 events included the creation of a Java and Justice podcast series, a Black Graduates Ceremony, and the first-ever Black Graduates Ceremony. Fall 2021 events include a Soul Food Luncheon bringing students together with alumni, faculty, and local community members in support of Carthage’s African American students during new student welcome. Additionally, Homecoming weekend Oct. 15-17 will include a career-networking event for alumni to share tips for success with current students, a tailgate reunion for the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network, and an Evening of Elegance formal party for students and alumni. The year of celebrations will conclude with Martin Luther King Day celebrations.
Related fundraising events included a Carthage Giving Day challenge that raised more than $5,000 to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus including the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Scholarship Funds, the Intercultural Center, and the Urban Teacher Prep Program. Additionally, three trustees gave seed money to create the 75 Years of Black Excellence endowed scholarship fund, which will be awarded to a rising senior to recognize outstanding achievement and/or contributions to campus diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
About Lorraine Wiggan
The first in her family to attend college, Lorraine Wiggan ’46 majored in music at Carthage, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She went on to teach music and conduct a children’s choir in Edwards, Mississippi, before taking her work to Puerto Rico, where she served in rural parishes for five years.
Over the next 14 years, she served as an organist, established choirs, and extended musical horizons for many Lutheran communities in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Camden, New Jersey; Chicago; and Brooklyn, New York. She earned a master’s degree in music education from Columbia University, with additional study at The Juilliard School. Her Carthage legacy continued when her nieces, Karen Thomas Garrett ’75 and Chief Judge Cynthia Thomas Walker ’78, graduated from Carthage more than three decades later.
About the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network
The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network is a group of committed Carthage alumni who have joined with Carthage faculty and staff to increase enrollment of students of color, and to secure the resources necessary to provide these students with the support they need to persevere to graduation and fulfill their post-graduation goals. Priorities for the W-K Network include fundraising, mentoring, connecting students to internships and other career opportunities, and advocating on their behalf.
In March 2018, the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network established two Wiggan-Kenniebrew Funds: The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Endowed Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for multicultural students. The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Experiential Learning Fund provides support for multicultural students to participate in co-curricular experiential learning opportunities not funded through tuition, such as travel abroad, workshops, conferences, internships, research, and more.
75 Years of Black Excellence Committee
Carthage wishes to acknowledge the contributions of all the alumni who have advised the 75 Years of Black Excellence initiative:
- Clementine Bordeaux ’06
- Charles Bowers ’03
- DaQuawn Bruce ’18
- Derrick Collins ’05
- John Danley ’80
- Annette Delaney ’79
- Asmau Diallo ’21
- Pamela Dixon ’94
- Ashley Easterwood ’08
- Karen Garrett ’83
- Shea’na Grigsby ’06
- Cecil Jennings ’81
- DaQuan Kuntu ’00
- Jamin McGinnis ’06
- Arlen Moss ’92
- Shebaniah Muhammad ’98
- Victoria Nguyen ’05
- Edwin Ojeda ’05
- Kevin Panke-Buisse ’10
- Cynthia Walker ’78